Latest demonstration follows Israeli killing of 60 Palestinians on Monday
Around 1,000 Palestinians protested on the Gaza border with Israel on the first Friday of the holy Muslim month of Ramzan, four days after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians.
The leader of Gaza’s ruling movement Hamas attended the fresh protest, taking part in prayers along the border before sunset and then participating in a demonstration.
Ismail Haniya gave the V-for-victory salute and waved the Palestinian flag a few hundred meters from the fence along the border with Israel, an AFP journalist reported. The Israeli army said around 1,000 “rioters” gathered in five spots along the border.
The latest protests came after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians along the border on Monday in a demonstration that coincided with the transfer of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The border has been a flashpoint for deadly demonstrations that began on March 30, with some protesters attempting to breach the fence as part of demands that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes now inside Israel. Since protests and clashes began, 116 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire across the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.
Speaking at a Gaza City mosque earlier on Friday, Haniya denied a deal had been made to end seven weeks of border protests, vowing they would continue. “The marches will not stop until the siege is lifted completely from the Gaza Strip.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced late Thursday at the start of Ramzan that his country’s border with Gaza would be open throughout the holy month of fasting to “alleviate the suffering” of Gazans.
Palestinian media have speculated a deal has been struck for Egypt, which has a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, to open the border in exchange for Hamas ending the protests.
Haniya welcomed Sisi’s decision but denied any such agreement. “There is a rumor that Hamas made a deal with Egypt to end the marches. This is baseless,” he said.
In Jerusalem, 120,000 Palestinians prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, said the religious authority that governs the holy site. Heavily armed Israeli police stood guard in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City where the mosque compound is located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.